Hebrews 2:14-18 – The Founder of Your Salvation
Intro: The human condition can be described as fighting against what enslaves while fighting for what frees you to live! Whatever level people are aware of this human struggle, the whole human race is made up of people winning and/or losing on varying degrees all of time. This same struggle holds true for believers but believers have a secret weapon who is a Person named Jesus. He is the only One who frees from what enslaves you and frees you to live a life of meaning and purpose. You are truly free to live only when you truly know your life’s not over when you die!
The end of chapter 2 applies what it means for you that Jesus became fully human! Jesus’ full humanity is meant to make you free!
Question: “How far did Jesus go to make you free?”
1. He destroyed your greatest enemy (v. 14)
Your greatest enemy is “the devil” (v. 14). We should know this but it is very easy to relegate him to a mythical character who we believe is real as far as the Bible says he is but do not truly embrace that he has any meaningful influence in our lives. The reason for this is that the devil is really good at disguising himself as an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He’s harmless right? No! He is the Prince of Darkness, scheming against anything righteous going on inside of your mind. He wants nothing more than to rob you of joy by enslaving you to your sin! Satan is anything but harmless! He wields a weapon called “death” and his goal is to keep people spiritually dead in sin until they can physically die so they will remain eternally dead! Does this seem like his strategy is working? It seems odd to admit that Satan wields the power of death but he does. He gained this control, seducing man to sin! To rebel against God! God allowed humankind to reap what he earned (Rom. 3:23, “the wages of sin is death”; Job 2:6 “Behold, he is in your hand”) but did not leave this problem unresolved! God’s Son was sent into the fray for rescue!
To destroy Satan he “partook” something completely foreign to himself namely, “flesh and blood” (v. 14). Believers, called “children” “share in flesh and blood” meaning this is what they have in common with each other. Jesus, prior to becoming a human made a conscious decision to take on what wasn’t naturally one’s own kind. Why did Jesus need to take on a second nature? Something foreign to his divine nature? It’s because Jesus came to die! The only way to “destroy…the devil” is to take away “the power of death” and this is only way to take away “death’s power” is by dying! In what sense is Satan destroyed? Ultimately, he is doomed for eternal Hell and in terms of your eternity, Satan is rendered powerless!
Satan’s temptations (fiery arrows) are still live but the next verse tells how strong you should be in the face of them!
2. He delivered you from your greatest fear (vv. 15-16)
What is your greatest fear? Public speaking? Being claustrophobic? This verse makes the case that man’s greatest fear is “death!” Job calls death “the king of terrors” (Job 18:14). It’s far too simplistic to say that this is the fear of physical death. This typically makes the top 5 on a google search but this is not the whole picture. Satan enslaves people by lying about “death.” He lied to Eve saying, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). You really can have it all here without any consequences or repercussions. The temptation to sin now, to capitulate, or sell out in this life, comes from believing life ends in death! It’s easy to see early Christians in Rome before anybody had died for the faith, selling out! It would be incredibly easy to sell out in this culture! Very tempting since we’ve not undergone formal persecution here! Fearing death takes a passive form too! Death can cause a paralysis from living! Uncertainty about your afterlife can cause people to freeze in this one. They try to earn their way to a better future through trying to be perfect. Or, people fall hopeless through despair over some guilty sin telling them they are beyond forgiveness! Or, people know they are destined for Hell! They are clear and have accepted the road to perdition! John Owen describes this state: “All Satan’s power over death is founded in sin. Obligation of the sinner to death is what gave Satan his power.” People live enslaved lifelong! The solution? Remove the obligation! Break the cycle of “sin earning death!” All of life’s slavery is connected to this “fear of death.”
What’s been amazing to me is to witness when someone is truly freed from this fear! How about a Christian who’s terminal, who’s accepted his or her fate. Eileen Starr is a recent example of this! She didn’t want the physical pain but there was no fear in death. When a believe has lost a close relative, a parent, or child, or dear friend freedoms appear! Money having it or not doesn’t matter as much. Shared experiences matter more! These people feel things others cannot.
Jesus didn’t “help” angels but “the offspring of Abraham” (v. 16; cf. Gal. 3:16). We are this “offspring” by faith. Demons believe and shudder! Demons are condemned, they cannot exercise saving faith! People can and Christians do! And, believers are delivered from Satan’s dominion!
3. He has met your greatest need (v. 17)
What is your greatest need? The forgiveness of your sins committed against a Holy God! Verse 17 is further explaining the process of our salvation in terms of Christ taking on full humanity. Your salvation was personal. You were saved by a human who also happens to be God! Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect” (v. 17). Our salvation was not based on theological logic but theological love! Human love! Human mercy! If you’ve ever been forgiven a great debt, what you did not deserve, you probably never forgot it! Jesus became family, unashamed to call you “brother” (cf. v. 11). He takes on the role of “high priest” but does so, not in judgment but compassion, mercy, and empathy. He was “faithful” to save you! He came to break your sin unto to death cycle! And, he does so by becoming a human priest who can stand in the gap between you and God the Father! Reaching one arm down to you and one arm up toward heaven! “In service to God” is “toward God” (v. 17). Jesus’ priestly work comes from the order of Melchizedek meaning he is a King/Priest who is a superior priesthood! Christ differs from Melchizedek in that he also was the sacrifice. “to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (v. 17). This is the language of Leviticus. There are two ideas in “propitiation” (v. 17). First, the literal Greek word which means to “take away sins.” Second “propitiation” means to satisfy. Christ absorbed God’s wrath on your behalf. As God but as a suffering servant who is also fully a man! When Christ died on the cross, he didn’t die for angels, he didn’t die for Satan, he did die to make a way for you to live, and he ultimately died to appease God’s eternal wrath that was against you. In this sense, “Christ died for God!”
Christ’s empathy while dying for you means he has empathy now while he lives for you!
4. He will carry you through your greatest struggle (v. 18)
Here’s the question! “If Jesus resolved your greatest foe, greatest fear, and your greatest need, then can you trust him to meet you in the midst of your greatest struggle?” “If Jesus resolved the next life, then will you trust Him in this one?”
It might be easy to leave Jesus as a pragmatist! Working the process, accomplishing the mission, and moving on! That’s not Jesus, and that’s not why he became a human, your brother!
“He literally feels with [man]…It is impossible to understand another person’s sorrows…unless we have been brought through them. A person without a trace of nerves has no conception of the tortures of nervousness. A person who is perfectly physically fit has no conception of the weariness of the person who is easily tired or the pain of the person who is never free from pain. A person who learns easily often cannot understand why someone who is slow finds things so difficult. A person who has never sorrowed cannot understand the pain at the heart of the person into whose life grief has come. A person who has never loved can never understand either the sudden glory or the aching loneliness in the lover’s heart. Before we can have sympathy we must go through the same things as the other person has gone through—and that is precisely what Jesus did.” Barclay
Jesus: Hungered, was thirsty, grew, loved, overcame fatigue, was angry, indignant, loved, was astonished, was glad, sarcastic, grieved, exercised faith, was troubled, prayed, sighed, and cried from heartache! His sympathy is authentic!
He has “suffered” while being “tempted” (v. 18). This is the “temptation” to quit when the pressure was poured on! Jesus endured the most extreme levels of temptation for the express and practical purpose “to help those who are being tempted” (v. 18). Jesus’ empathy is not mere emotion! Jesus isn’t merely whispering in our ear, “I know how you feel!” Jesus’ sympathy comes with power! The word, “able to help” is duvatai or power! Jesus powerfully comes to aid. He is our supply of power to persevere in this life and onto the next!
Conclusion: At the beginning of our time I made the statement: “You are truly free to live only when you truly know your life’s not over when you die!” Paul said is this way, “To live is Christ and to die is gain!” How far did Jesus go to free you from the slavery of sin? Jesus took on “flesh and blood” – “full humanity” to give you this life to enjoy! He’s reconciled your life to come, so start living by His power in this life now!